The top 6 traits for a fresh management approach to stay competitive in 2024

posted on April 12, 2024

Great Place to Work | By Nancy Fonseca

Challenges and opportunities are all around us. From political unrest to the changes in social values to the rapid evolution of AI, there is an undeniable shift happening and business leaders are at the forefront of navigating this change. How they lead their people through the disruption will make all the difference. And in fact, a fresh management approach that assumes change as a constant will help leaders build trust and achieve organizational success.

What is the new management approach?

Leaders are being asked to pivot continuously and rise to unprecedented challenges. They are managing a workforce that has a multitude of different needs and priorities – some are working other gigs, others are working from home, many are stressed, and many more are disengaged. And leaders are the ones tasked with bringing these people together to pull in the same direction while also defining what that direction is.

A traditional management approach that presumes authority and hierarchy with leaders wielding control is not what great leadership will looks like in 2024 and beyond. The management approach that enables success going forward, is one that values people first with leaders who are collaborative, compassionate, and authentic.

This fresh approach is something we are seeing within high-trust teams that thrive. At workplaces that are recognized for their Most Trusted Executive Team, over 90% of their employees feel their manager is approachable and easy to talk to, feel they can be themselves with their team, and feel trusted to do a good job without being micromanaged.

This is the type of work environment where people thrive and a management approach that encourages this level of trust and personal engagement is what is needed for 2024 and the foreseeable future. Here are the six traits that underpin this approach:

  1. Be Compassionate

    This starts with empathy, but it needs to go deeper. It’s more about focussing on emotional intelligence and really tapping into what people need in the moment to feel seen and heard. When you recognize what other people are going through you can help them perform at their best because you understand what ‘their best’ means. You don’t compromise standards or expectations, but rather you help people manage their competing priorities and deal with individual challenges in a way that is kind, considerate and mindful. Taking a compassionate approach helps find ways to motivate people, resolve conflict, and simply communicate better so everyone gets their needs met.

  1. Be Humble

    As a leader you do not know it all. You may not know the best way forward. Recognizing and embracing the notion that you don’t, nor do you have to, have all the answers is powerful. It allows you to be more authentic and to be more human in your interactions with your team. Admit mistakes and encourage others to do the same. Be vulnerable. Share your values, beliefs and fears. This is how true connections with your people are made and from there you can problem solve and truly collaborate for the best results.

  1. Never Stop Learning

    Leaders need to be learners. With the pace and array of the change and challenge we are faced with, success in meeting these challenges means leaders have to be agile and adaptable. And this means you have to continually learn, whether it’s learning how AI will change your workplace or learning how to be more emotionally intelligent. Personal development through education is important, as is mentoring and exposing yourself to diverse perspectives. Bringing a student mindset, and acknowledging that you can always learn something is what will help you stay attuned to market trends and it will encourage you to challenge the status quo, self-reflect and seek continuous growth.

  1. Focus on Wellbeing

    As a population we are stressed. Polls and studies confirm this and anecdotally and personally we know it. The economy is tight, housing is unaffordable, global unrest is everywhere. We have childcare and pet care and elder care but where is there time for self-care? Leaders need to acknowledge that they are stressed and so is their team. And the best place to start is with a holistic approach to wellness that ensures you as a leader are taking care of yourself and that you are talking to your team about mental and physical wellness. A mentally healthy leader sets a positive example for their team and is better equipped to handle workplace challenges. Talk about mental health, provide supports for wellness and continually learn (see above!) about new techniques and practices that will help the entire team get, and stay, healthy.

  1. Listen More

    Listening is the best way to respond to the complex needs of your people. Leaders need to embrace robust listening practices to ensure their people feel heard. This encompasses programs that bring employees together to learn and share and collaborate and it also means checking in regularly with people to stay connected. With hybrid workplaces becoming more the norm, focussing on effective listening strategies is even more important. Ask people how they are doing. Ask how you can support them. Provide time and resources to get together as a team and really talk to each other. As a leader, make sure you follow through and follow up so your people know they were actually heard.

  1. Empower Others to Lead

    In the modern workplace, leaders don’t wield unbridled authority. Instead, every employee must be a leader and use their leadership skills to drive initiatives and projects across the business. Where people don’t have direct reports, they might still lead a project or use leadership skills to foster collaboration with other departments. Rather than directing work up and down a hierarchy, think more about empowering your people to work collaboratively with each other. This means letting go of that traditional sense of power and authority and allowing your people to take the lead, knowing they have the tools and support they need to be successful.